Ok, you've seen the picture, wanna know what I did? I made 4 different kinds to see what combinations of flavors I could make before saying "Uh no, you just ruined it," (which incidentally kinda happened when I mixed all the leftover fillings together into one cannolo shell, they just didn't play well with each other. BTW that one is not in the picture) or until I ran out of filling.
- I made a traditional one with "plain" filling with pistachio garnish on the ends, and dark chocolate drizzle (the one in the center of the pic above).
- 2 with Dagoba Aztec chocolate chunks (I know, totally NOT Sicilian) in the filling with pistachios on the ends (the two on the right of the pic).
- One with dark chocolate chunks and cinnamon in the plain filling with tips dipped in chocolate, topped with chocolate drizzle (second one from the left in pic).
- And (my favorite) one with crushed Ghirardelli Dark & Sea Salt Caramel squares with ends dipped in chocolate, and drizzled with caramel (the first one on the left in the pic).
- All cannoli were topped with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Now that you know the different things I did for the filling goodies, let me tell you how I made the base filling:
- The first thing I did was open a 16 oz. container of ricotta cheese and drain it in cheesecloth. You want to let any liquid in the ricotta drain out, otherwise, your cannoli filling will be runny.
- While that was draining, I put a medium ceramic bowl and the mixer beaters into the freezer (you'll find out why later). Then I put different flavored chocolate bars into separate baggies and started whacking them with a hammer. Ok, it was really a meat mallet, but it was still fun. I did this to make chunks for some of the fillings (and did I mention, because it was fun?).
- Once I got my ingredients lined up, I pulled the mixing bowl and beaters out of the freezer and poured in 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 2 Tbls. of sugar, and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla (don't use that crap vanilla flavoring, get real vanilla extract). Then I mixed it on high for a few minutes until it looked like whipped cream. TIP: Putting the bowl and beaters into the freezer makes the cream stiffen faster and cuts the beating time significantly.
- If you are dipping the ends of the shells in chocolate, melt the chocolate in the microwave, dip the ends, place on wax paper, and chill in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
- Then, I took the drained ricotta and put it into a large bowl. I added 1/2 cup of the whipped cream mixture and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. I folded it all together gently, until well blended. Then I separated the filling out into other containers so that I could do some ingredient experimentation.
- After I finished making my filling combos, I spooned them into individual ziplock sandwich bags and cut the corners of each bag. Then I piped the filling into the cannolo from the inside out, then flipped the shell around and did the same to the other end.
- The I drizzled them with some sticky-sweet goodness and dusted them with powdered sugar, and DONE!
There are lots of recipes out there for the shells, but I had already hunted & gathered plus made dinner that day, and I was just too lazy to make them from scratch. The shells take the longest to make, so I just bought some pre-made ones instead. But do yourself a favor and don't skip on making the whipped cream from scratch. Since I started making my own, I haven't bought whipped cream since. I think I may have gotten the recipe for it out of a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook way back when, but it is so creamy and tasty that I can't go back to canned (or tubbed) whipped cream. It really does make a difference. Oh, speaking of which, there will be whipped cream left over after you fold the 1/2 cup into the ricotta for the filling, so feel free to try it with cut-up strawberries, in your coffee/hot cocoa, or just shovel it into your mouth...you're welcome.
Bottom line, if you make cannoli at home, set aside some time so that you can really get creative. I had a lot of fun trying out new combos, and I hope you do too!